Partner attacks surveyors report

A REPORT claiming house-buyers get a raw deal from surveyors has come under fire from a leading professional indemnity lawyer.

A study by the National Consumer Council (NCC) concludes that the Court of Appeal has sided with surveyors in determining damages for negligence claims.

The NCC says householders should be awarded the full cost of repairs where a surveyor has made mistakes.

But it says that the courts have been less generous, choosing instead to award complainants the difference between the cost of the house and the true market value had the defects been correctly diagnosed.

David Hertzell, managing partner of Davies Arnold Cooper, says the courts have been taking the logical approach and have recognised “the realities of the market-place”.

Most current claims date back to work done during the 1980s boom when house prices were soaring.

“If you buy a house in a rising market, discussions with the purchaser over repairs usually lead to some kind of agreement where only part of the cost is knocked off the price,” says Hertzell. If the market is stagnant, the courts should reflect this, he says.